Ancient Rites Interview Part III: Gunther Theys Talks Thoughts On Death & Touring Experiences

In this final piece of our massive three-part exclusive interview with Ancient Rites frontman Gunther Theys, he discusses his thoughts on the future of humanity, as well as some rather oblong and chilling thoughts on the nature of death in general. I was quite shocked, yet intrigued by these answers. Lastly, he talked about several of his favorite moments on tour and how he’s willing to tour the entire world! But why wouldn’t you, if you had the chance?

I’ve heard that our planet is already about 50% uninhabitable for life, which means that in a couple more decades, it will be completely unlivable for anything. How does this news affect you? Do you feel there is any hope for the human race?

From our point of view it is hard to perceive that this planet already existed millions of years without human life. In that light human existence on this old planet is merely a recent detail, despite our advanced “intelligence”. Perhaps that very intelligence could be one of the reasons of (or contributing to) humanity’s downfall…or not, perhaps brilliant scientists can outsmart the Doom or win time? Then again, all these creatures roaming the earth in the past millennia did not cause environmental problems and yet they were wiped off the face of earth anyway. If the human race disappears it could be a simple case of “time’s up”, natural selection. The earth might even turn into an uninhabitable planet. Nothing lasts forever. I’m not really affected by these larger than my own little life questions because I have to focus on survival in daily life right here and now. The reason is that I had to deal with several serious operations these past years and still must go for treatments to the clinic every few weeks to keep things under control. I battle chronic illness. Such is the nature of the petty human mind when being confronted with life or death on a personal level. One struggles, hopes for the best, takes things as they come, day by day, no time for self-pity but on the other hand one doesn’t think of a far future when one’s own end could be lurking around the corner, I don’t want to sound dramatic or anything but one doesn’t think ”far future” in general if you understand what I mean. I might appear selfish to the eyes of “world saviors” and activists but I never was the type and I answer in an honest way, seeing things from a personal situation without trying to present myself in a certain way to please the moral majority. I always have been a bit of an outsider in everything. I focus on the here and now, the realities I must deal with on the spot and get on with it. I don’t focus on theories or larger than life situations on the long run I have no control over. I take things as they come, good or bad. Once I was on a plane and there was a lot of turbulence, oxygen masks dropped out. People panicked and all I could think was “Is this it then? Let’s see if I can still call home”. But things went calm again. But I was a bit surprised by how calm I was. I don’t panic. Once friends ambushed me at night in a dark alley, jumping me as if I was being robbed. “Yeah?” I answered. Hands in my pockets. They were so disappointed I didn’t jump or reacted scared. When I am on the operation table I joke around with the surgeons and staff before anesthesia kicks in and wish them good luck, a sharp blade and a steady hand and say “see you if I wake up”. Perhaps I’m a bit fatalistic? I do hold a positive attitude and fight until my last breath but when a situation is hopeless or I have no control over matters I am calm and say “Bummer. Ok. This is beyond my control, not going to panic over it. Right.”  People sometimes find that a bit insane, I can be stoic. Like an outsider observing, not being too much affected. What is important is to hold one’s head high while walking from the cradle to the grave and make the best out of it, that short period of time we are playing our own part in this theater of life. And trying to be correct. Especially to those deserving it. Yet, when I see IS at work, decapitating people or destroy the ancient Assyrian sites I get annoyed. Would like to see them disappear from the face of this planet. I can’t stand cruelty, also not towards animals. The things people do. Also on a less dramatic scale this tiring constant quest for power and might one can see in daily life, people trying to impress oneself and the world. So trivial. So small. So it is not a case of being stone cold. But I don’t have typical reflexes. Living in my own world I suppose. Humanity is a bit overrated. Capable of great things and the lowest. Perhaps that’s why I don’t lose sleep over the question if we are doomed or not. Death is certain the moment we are born. I suppose that’s why people create religions or others hope for some sort of spiritual after life. The idea that all is in vain is not very motivating so they search for some kind of religious or spiritual comfort to hang on to. It is understandable but I don’t build hopes on uncertainties. It is somewhat ironic that in their search for serving and imposing their gods some fundamentalists kill and get killed. A rather no win situation I find. Not at all spiritual  But who am I? I don’t have any answers. If there are gods I won’t be on their guest list I suppose, if there’s nothingness I won’t know it anyway. Yeah, the price of being a critical mind, little to look forward to when one’s time’s up. Not that I’m scared but mortality and the awareness of that is not exactly a very “festive” thought. I can be overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, by larger than life landscapes and certain things do feel spiritual and eternal. Sometimes the mind can overcome the physical which does seem to lift a person to a higher level at times. When one feels like being in the center of creation, in harmony, overlooking valleys, close to the sky, being a part of…life. Art, music can also lift spirits up to a higher level beyond daily life…If the body is merely a vessel for spiritual growth it is a drag we have to experience the rot and decline of our vessel as we grow, without the guarantee of spiritual continuation, in a way that is rather cruel. But again, little we can do about it. Perhaps we’re all simply fooling ourselves in arrogance and driven by the instinct of self-preservation not accepting there’s an end to everything…Should I erase this answer because I can imagine people will not be interested in hearing these contemplations and me going on about theories and what could or could not be? I don’t know. Does it matter what I think? This is typical me though, questioning everything, looking at things from different angles. The older one gets the more one realizes to know very little. Don’t trust those who claim to know it all. They don’t. My darker thoughts are probably based on experiences in life, I have seen many people close to me die. And have seen ups and downs myself I had little control over as my ordeals were of a physical kind. That also humbles a person. But a positive message I can give is: life IS worth living. Ordeals can make you stronger if one has the right mind set. Persevere, fight, crawl up again. Always. That is an answer I can give. Spiritual strength does help the body during ordeals, your overall wellbeing. But I have no answers regarding “the bigger picture” as all seems very random to me. These past weeks I had to bury two friends, one died of cancer and another committed suicide. Things are random. But give it all you got and make your life worth living. You owe it to yourself. Soul Invictus! Anyhow, my apologies for the bore, do something interesting instead while you still have a life that is certain, reading this came at a cost of your precious time. People prefer to read about cars, beers and sex. I’m not your typical rock star “sorry!” haha …;-)

Finally, let’s talk about your tours. What are some of your greatest experiences on the road, as well as some of your less memorable moments? Additionally, where can we catch you live on tour this year?

I think every concert is important. No matter if it’s a club gig or an appearance on a big fest. One owes it to oneself and the people who come to see you to give it a 100% regardless the size of the club or the number of people attending. We have toured Europe and the U.K. many times, played the Middle East and USA. Life on the road is like an adventure, very unpredictable: one day all is going perfectly, the next nothing seems to work. Once we stranded in England with all our equipment and without any money, food or a place to stay. Even that one we turned into an interesting experience, often larger than life, and continued touring in an alternative way in order to gain money to get back home. Most of the bands we toured with we already knew personally, which of course improved life on the road together. When mutual respect is shown we get along with everyone, no infantile rock star attitudes. We toured as headliners several times but also with major acts. Highlights in our career were playing the legendary Marquee in London, Thorns club at Athens being the first foreign B.M. band to play in Greece, the very first big extreme Metal fest in Lisbon and appearing on Metal festivals such as DYNAMO OPEN AIR, WACKEN or GRASPOP to mention a few. It is fascinating to see how crowds differ from country to country, city to city even. Whenever there is some free time available (after the sound check for instance) I leave the venue to taste a bit of the local culture. I’m thrilled when I have the chance to visit museums, monuments or ancient/medieval remains. And I like to hang out with our following after the gig when I get the chance and tight schedules or distances don’t force us to leave straight away. Concerts are planned in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, England and Germany. Would be fun returning to the States, we had a great time there and a very appreciative crowd.

Thanks for making a truly awesome record and you can expect a wonderful review of this in a few days or so. It’s a truly remarkable release that I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end. You may have been doing this for a very long time, but Laguz shows that your sound is just as memorable as ever, with no signs of age or wear. Best of luck in all of your future endeavors!

Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. That is always pleasant to hear. I wish you all the best with The Grim Tower and my regards to your readers. Thank you for this interesting conversation which I enjoyed…

Buy directly from the band here: http://www.ancientrites.be/mainnew.htm

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